elegance in open source software

An article about the usability of open source software like Mozilla, Firefox, Gnome and Nautilus gave me something to think about. He says programmers don’t have to design for either the power user or the average user because even a power user doesn’t always want to configure everything; sometimes they just want it to work by default.

In other words, the constant battle between making an application configurable enough to keep technical users happy while making it easy enough for others to use (and not be too confusing) may be unnecessary.

Can both types of users really be pleased with a single product?

I’m a technical user and there are several things I’ve found with Firefox that I wish I could configure (like disabling animated gifs) but I still use it. Maybe the issue is not that both will be completely satisfied, but both will still use it.

In related news, Firefox had a full-page ad in the New York times paid for entirely by donations. Wired recently had an article citing research that the Linux kernel has fewer bugs than most proprietary software. It looks like open source software is beginning to gain some traction in the marketplace.


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  1. Just wanted to let you know that Firefox now has an extension that does, in fact, disable annimated gif’s. Works like a charm, too! http://tinyurl.com/53jfk

    Paul (a very happy dashboard user!)

    Comment by SteelerDirtFreak on December 17, 2004 @ 9:29 pm

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